Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Unofficial Book Blitz: Letters To Nowhere by Julie Cross

Letters To Nowhere (Letters to Nowhere, #1) 
Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: August 1st 2013
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From the International Bestselling Author of the Tempest Series...

Set in the tough world of Elite Gymnastics...

I've gotten used to the dead parents face. I've gotten used to living with my gymnastics coach. I've even adjusted to sharing a bathroom with his way-too-hot son. Dealing with boys is not something that's made it onto my list of experiences as of yet. But here I am, doing it. And something about Jordan--being around him, talking to him, thinking about him--makes me feel like I can finally breathe again. That's something I haven't been able to do lately. He knows what it feels like to be me right now. He knows what it's like to wonder--what now? I think about it constantly. I need answers. I need to know how to get through this. In the gym, if you're struggling, you train harder, you do drills and conditioning. How do I work hard at moving on? At being on my own? And what happens if I might be...maybe...probably falling for Jordan? I mean we live together now. That can't happen, can it? But kissing him...well, let's just say it's not an easy activity to forget.

Return To Sender (Letters to Nowhere #2)
Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: October 20th 2013
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If only summer could last forever…

Karen and Jordan might be out in the open with their relationship, but that doesn't make it any easier for them to face events looming in the future. Like Jordan leaving for college halfway across the country. Or Karen's win at a big international gymnastics competition setting the bar high for her future and adding pressure like she's never experienced before. 

But when Nina Jones (aka-US Gymnastics Dictator), makes plans for Karen and teammate Stevie to train at a gymnastics camp for a month—the same camp where Jordan coaches—romantic summer interludes replace their fears of being apart. Both Jordan and Karen know that when fall comes, some very tough decisions will have to be made, but for now, it’s stolen kisses, racing hearts, and whispered words.

Return to You (Letters to Nowhere #3)

Publisher: Long Walk Press
Release Date: December 15th 2013

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How many dreams can you chase at once?

Even with bad boy, TJ, disrupting their morning workouts, Karen and Stevie’s daily battles with each other are sure to bring both of them closer to a national title at next month’s championships. It’s the kind of feud that creates winning results. 

Until a fall from the uneven bars shakes Karen’s rock-solid confidence. Not only does she balk every time she so much as attempts a routine, she’s also facing all this without much support from Jordan. After receiving some bad news, Jordan’s reluctance to listen to reason causes Karen so much frustration she begins to avoid him, needing space to deal with her own issues. He needs someone to force him to make the right choice, he needs his dad to intervene and Karen knows this, but is torn between her loyalty to Jordan and her concern for her coach’s son. Even though both paths lead to the same person—Jordan—it feels like she’s choosing between two different people.

And then there’s the growing tension between TJ and Stevie. They’re obviously on the verge of either ripping each other’s heads off or ripping each other’s clothes off. It’s hard for either Jordan or Karen to tell where those two are headed. Tension is building from every possible outlet and there’s bound to be an explosion of some kind in the very near future. 

Letters to Nowhere
by Julie Cross

I don’t think Jordan even noticed me or Coach Bentley sitting at the table. He went right for the fridge, chugging milk straight from the carton. I eyed my nearly empty glass. Gross.
            Coach Bentley looked over the morning paper at his son. “Damn it, Jordan! Put on a shirt.”
            And pants?
            Jordan glared at his dad but snatched a black hoodie from a hook by the back door and threw it on. Coach Bentley glared right back and turned to me. “Be ready in ten minutes?”
            I nodded, indicating I was ready to leave anytime, then I returned to watching YouTube videos on my phone. There was a release move on the uneven bars that I wanted to learn, even though Coach Bentley probably wouldn’t let me try it. He was too obsessed with perfection to let me take a big risk. And honestly, I’d never been a risk-taker until recently. It was like an itch I couldn’t scratch.
            Jordan nudged the gooey eggs around in the skillet, made a face, and reached in a high-up cabinet, removing a box of sugar-filled cereal. He plunged his hand right into the box and stuffed his mouth full of fruity pebbles.
            What would I have to do to disinfect this food? Spray it all with Lysol? At least I wouldn’t be eating that cereal, but who knew what he’d get his hands in (literally) when I wasn’t around to watch?
            I distracted myself from pointless germ thoughts and went back watching videos again.
            “No way,” Jordan said with his mouth full.
            I jumped and glanced over my shoulder at him, now standing right behind me. “What?”
            “You can’t do that.” He pointed to the video on my phone.
            “I know that.” I stuffed the phone in my gym bag and got up from the chair. “I like to watch videos of crazy moves when I’m bored.”
            Jordan plopped right into my abandoned spot, his disheveled hair looking slightly more attractive than you’d think it would. He had dimples that popped up when his mouth wasn’t too full, too. “A crazy move that my dad used to do.”
            Now it was my turn to lift an eyebrow. “Yeah, I heard that, too, but I couldn’t find a video of him performing it.”
            Jordan tossed his feet up on the empty chair. “Because he tore his bicep doing that release right before the World Championships and never competed it.”
            “That explains a lot.” Maybe this wasn’t the worst place to be living while training. It was kind of like a home court advantage.
            “Ready, Karen?” Coach Bentley called from the foyer.
            “I’ll be in the shower in a few minutes,” Jordan whispered loudly. “Just in case you need to know. Don’t want you to accidently walk in on me. We should probably post a schedule or put an alarm on the bathroom door.”
            I closed my eyes and turned around, feeling completely mortified.
            “Uh-huh,” I said, not looking back at him.
            “Thanks for not saying anything. About yesterday…”

            Which part? Forgetting to give me a ride or the girl you were feeling up on the couch last night? I let out a breath. “No problem.”

Do you have a favorite character from Letters to Nowhere? Why is he (or she) your favorite?

Karen, my main character, is my favorite to write mostly because I’ve wanted to write a book narrated from the point of view of an elite gymnast since my author journey first began. I absolutely love capturing that socially sheltered mindset and pairing it up with a level of maturity and discipline that most adults don’t have. That’s the essence of women’s elite gymnastics. Young girls carrying big loads of responsibility and self-awareness. They have it completely together, there’s always a plan for what’s next. With Karen, I gave her all of those qualities and then I pulled the rug out from under her by taking away her parents in a car accident before the book opens. Then: *Enter cute boy* whom she is forced to share a bathroom with. Who has a tragic past of his own. Who may be the only one that can help her heal. 

Were you nervous when you decided to venture outside of your Sci-Fi series and write a contemporary novel? Did you have any reservations at first?

I wasn’t nervous to write the book, but I was super super nervous to tell people about it. Especially online to Tempest series fans. I honestly figured I’d finish the book so the characters would stop tormenting me inside my head, which I know it sounds a little schizophrenic, but it’s the truth and probably never publish it. And just hearing you say that it paid off means that it totally has. I’ve pleased at least one reader. Mission accomplished. Thanks so much for that J 

Gymnastics is a huge part of this novel and your website says that you were a former gymnastics coach. How excited were you to combine your passions for writing and gymnastics into one project?

It was like Disney World, Universal Studios and a house right on the beach all packaged into one trip that didn’t even require packing or travel time. I enjoyed every phase of creating this story so much, I felt guilty calling it my job. 

There are some pretty heartbreaking scenes in the book. Do you get extremely attached to your characters? If so, how do you feel when you have to write a scene that is going to be particularly hard on them? 

Normally, I struggle with getting all the tension I need in a first draft because it becomes so difficult to put characters I love through all this emotional trauma. Often I have to step away from the story for a while and then I raise the stakes in the next draft. But with Letters to Nowhere, I had no problem shoving the characters into flaming fire after fire because I knew that in order for Karen (and also Jordan and Coach Bentley) to properly grieve and begin to heal, there was only one way to get past the fire—run straight through it. And the whole time I was writing this book, I knew Karen was a bomb waiting to go off. I knew she’d need to have that moment of realization about her future and what losing her parents really meant. And I wanted to get her there so I could see that she was okay. 

What was the hardest part of writing Letters to Nowhere?

Nothing was really hard to write, but I worked the hardest at making the gymnastics element “user friendly” in the sense that I wanted this to be a book for the widest audience possible while still showing a true portrayal of the sport. 

What was your favorite part?

The evolution of “Jaren” hands down. The relationship between Karen and Jordan is built in a way that I hadn’t done before in novel. Not exactly. I rarely do the insta-love thing but what they have is so much deeper than romantic love. Not to spoil anything in the book or future books in this world, but I truly believe that Jordan and Karen will always have a tie that can’t be severed no matter where their paths lead them. They could never hate each other. Many people look back on their first love and the relationship and drama often seem silly. It won’t be like that for these two. Their relationship will always represent a hugely important part of their lives.

by Julie Cross

1) Since I started writing the book, I've envisioned my main character, Karen, as a red-headed McKayla Maroney even though I tried my best not to picture her as anyone specific.

2) I've been around the world of competitive gymnastics for at least 15 years and therefore have depicted elite level gymnastics as true-to-life as possible in this book. 

3) The romance in LtN is not your typical "insta-love" or "fall in love then break up" format. This will please some and disappoint others.

4) My main character, Karen, has just lost both her parents in a tragic car accident prior to the book's opening however, I don't consider this a typical book about death either because there are so many other elements intertwined and Karen is a fighter, she's constantly driven by one goal or another. It's about rising up after a fall. 

5) LtN is truly the book of my heart because I wanted, for so long, to find a way to combine by two greatest passions - YA Literature and Gymnastics.

I'm the author of the YA sci-fi trilogy, the Tempest series (St. Martin's Press). I'm also the author of the YA contemporary novel, Letters To Nowhere. 

But even more importantly than the above, I'm a fan of books and an avid reader/reviewer. Keep in mind, however, that a review is just one person's opinion, one perspective. My goal is to show as much bias in my reviews as possible because this makes it easier for you to decide if your perspective is similar to mine or different. Everyone's tastes are different. I like books with emotion and believability. I don't mind edgy and heavy themes. I also like humor and quirk. I like weird characters in odd situations. 

I have low tolerance for insta-love, flowery sex scenes, or mushy declarations of feelings. Not a fan of possessive/controlling male characters who get the girl in the end. When I recommend books, I always ask about favorite current reads and cater to each person's taste. 

I believe every book plays an important role whether I love it or hate, it's having an effect on society. It's changing, shaping, and molding the future of publishing. Regardless of my feelings about a book, I value the author's time and effort put into creating their work. I only rate books available for purchase (or soon-to-be available) and consider those books as published works and their creators as professionals in their field therefore I treat them as professionals, giving my honest opinion on the work itself and not the person producing it.

If I rate a book and don't provide any written review and you'd like to hear my thoughts, feel free to comment on the review and if I can, I'll explain my reasoning behind the rating. I don't mind authors commenting on any review I post - negative or positive. Also happy to email to discuss Juliecrossauthor (at) gmail (dot) com please alert me if I misled readers or given false information (accidentally of course) and I'll correct the situation as soon as possible.

Win (1) ebook copy (will be gifted via Amazon only) of Letters to Nowhere by Julie Cross (INT)

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